Response to the Weapons Morality Police

 
by , , and  •  Aug 17, 2012

Location: HQReportsResponse to the Weapons Morality Police

This is in response to the self imposed morality police types that appear to be jumping up to point out the wrongs being done by Electronic Arts with regards to what it supports in the real world where it has ties to the games it offers.

At Issue

Recently a new crop of articles has surfaced centered around the partnership of Medal of Honor Warfighter with real world manufacturers of various items that are used in the game.

Why Off Duty Gamers is Responding

In case you are a new reader coming here in the wake of this nonsense it is important to know that this site is comprised of active duty and prior service military members. Each of us is either wearing the uniform now or has done so in the past. We serve the military and veteran community in the military video games space and always do so with the understanding that our first mission is always to advocate for the military and the men and women who serve.

Our Understanding

We feel it is important to fully understand the position we are taking means you the reader needs to know  what we believe and understand to be true.

  • The Medal of Honor franchise started as a way to bring gamers a greater understanding and appreciation for the real world historical events. From it’s first days on the beaches of Normandy to it’s present day portrayal of the war on terror it has always held at its core a respect for the military and the job it does
  • The partner promotion program that has been in place for Medal of Honor Warfighter is based on interviews with real world special operations personnel who have pointed out the tools, uniforms, equipment and weapons that they use as part of the day to day lives of operators.
  • Once equipment has been identified the team at Danger Close engages manufacturers to determine if they can use materials and names in the game and opens a dialog on partnership and support. The partnership appears to include use of the name and likeness of items in the game, cross promotion and donations (direct or via proceeds) to select special operations charities.
  • It is our belief that Danger Close/Electronic Arts does not financially benefit from these partners (companies paying Danger Close/Electronic Arts for such a partnership opportunity)

Some examples

Let’s not even dilute ourselves for a second that this would be an issue if it were just the gloves, uniform, patches and sunglasses used by troops and not the weapons. We feel that there is an active agenda that vilifies those who use, promote or apparently even collect weapons.  Let us line up the content for you…

Eurogamer

In an article this past week Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell pointed out that Medal of Honor was promoting a weapon that was branded and created after the the game. He is an admitted British liberal and we are well aware of the fairly standard anti-weapon stance that implies. his focus is on the tomahawk and links to real world weapons used in the game.

It’s a video game Mr. Bramwell, players if they purchase any of the ingame merchandise will do so for their personal collections. Just like the fine folks in the Airsoft Community. Buying a Tomahawk or other piece of kit doesn’t make them out to be head splitting psychopaths. Furthermore, if companies can sell any of their merchandise by tying it to a certain video game, and then turn around and donate a buttload of money back into my military community, I say Bravo Sirs, sell a million Tomahawks

Eurogamer needs to understand that the people who are suggesting these partnerships are former/current SOF shooters and that they are in the know.

GameSpot

Once again, Gamespot is back to take another shot at Medal of Honor and bridge authenticity with reality as if someone would mix up the two. After Tom McShea took a shot at the authenticity issue in June, Laura Parker pushes out her crusade against what SHE thinks Danger Close is allowed to support. There seems to be some weird confusion that if there is a link to the real world item it will compel fans of the game to go out and recreate the situation in real life. Maybe the GameSpot fan base is that pliable but I assure you, the rest of us are not.

The Gamelogical Society

Ryan Smith offers you a deep dive into what he feels is a murky marketing waters as he links gun violence to links on a website. As is usual, the failure is that guns are tools, people with the intent to do harm are the danger and if they are intent on violence they can do so with a claw hammer as easily as a rifle. Ryan mentions “Gun Advertising” but honestly, these are businesses who sell tools to those who use them. If there were no market, they wouldn’t be in business and just as you can misuse any other tool you buy, so too can a gun be misused. He cites an issue with a teenager he knows in bringing a pellet gun to school. While I sympathize that the teen made a bad choice I hardly believe this is a result of the video game industry conditioning him to think otherwise.

You can be partners, just no weapons

We had a fairly tough time finding the stiff opposition to the sunglasses, uniforms, patches and gloves that were included in the Medal of Honor partnership program. Apparently to these media outlets you can dress the part, but regardless if you’re legally able or interested in purchasing and owning items considered weapons, there should be no promotion.

The video game industry is FULL of real world versions of in game items. Some are weapons or could be used as such from Half Life’s crowbar to BioShock’s pipe wrench (we wont yell at you at your local hardware store for your cosplay or potential violent outburst on behalf of your purchase btw). We have no idea of the scope of cross promotion in games but it seems that there is no end to the number of things you can brand and sell based on a popular video game.

Apparently there is some imaginary line that has been drawn that says you can only promote things so far before it is not tolerated. War appears to be ‘bad’ except if portrayed in games as unrealistic. I’m not sure we should even be debating this issue, however.  To do so implies that we accept the premise. War is NOT inherently evil.  War ended slavery, communism, saved millions of Jews and gypsies and homosexuals, liberated vast swathes of the planet, and is responsible for most technological advances of the last 200 years.

Who buys this stuff?

We do! You and I buy game related stuff all the time and each time you choose with your wallet what you as a consumer purchase. Just because you might consider your money well spent on a Master Chief 12″ figure for your mantle doesn’t make our money any less considered when it is placed on a Medal of Honor Warfighter Tomahawk or patches and uniform components that we may cosplay or run around on an airsoft field. Sure some of this stuff are real world weapons with applications that are distasteful to some people, but is that our problem? If you don’t want to buy a McMillan TAC-300 then hey, by all means don’t spend your money but remember that for those still out there in the world doing the job, knowing that the worlds best in the job field you work in and around (Special Operations personnel) are using a particular weapon system because it is the best might be worth making us take a look or even purchase one for our own.

It’s About OUR Rights

The dangers of the positions advocated by these articles is that they have a willingness to drive organizations to do our thinking for us. As an entity they have a right to choose what they will promote, support or sell. As a consumer we have a right to buy or not based on our own personal decision. We are not sheep who buy something because someone offers a link or a good cause unless we agree with it. Do not impose your will and push to decide what you should or should not purchase. If a game company believes they support something for a reason then exercise your opinion and either support it or not with your dollars.

It should be said that while this particular controversy centers around Medal of Honor, everything you read here extends to other companies support. We are happy to see Call Of Duty Endowment support veterans and if they opt to support through it’s partnership with JEEP or any other manufacturer in the real world, if the end goal is to give back to the military community that they benefit millions of dollars based on then so be it, they have that right and we support them.

Why would Danger Close back down?

In response to the heat being generated by the ‘guns are bad’ crowd Greg Goodrich reported and it was later confirmed that they took the partner program down. We have already had one discussion via twitter with GameSpot who appeared to feel that this move was an indication that EA was admitting what it did was wrong but Off Duty Gamers is not convinced. We have worked with Medal of Honor both directly and indirectly over the years and in that work have found that Greg Goodrich and his predecessors have had nothing but the highest respect for the franchise, history and the people that it portrays.

In our most recent work with this franchise it has become abundantly clear that in the case of controversy one of the first things that happens is for Greg to get out in front of it and protect the military community. While most of us IN the military community willingly support the continuation of the partner program Greg Goodrich has vowed to never allow negativity surrounding this franchise to fall back on the military or it’s veterans. His move to pull the program is not because he feels that it is wrong and has been called on it but rather in an effort to keep any controversy from causing a loss in the willingness of the military community to work with the franchise or cause any pain to those who are being assisted as part of the programs they are donating and supporting.

We here at Off Duty Gamers do not see Danger Close/Electronic Arts position as a weakness, but rather a strength of character, integrity and dedication to the very men and women of the military they choose to honor through the games narrative.

Once again the military is the one that loses

So now here we are again with controversy stirring, mud slinging and moral points of view being argued. EA will pull the sponsorship, limit the exposure to the military groups it was supporting and mend itself through PR. MOST of the readers won’t care and will still purchase Medal of Honor Warfighter based on the same criteria they used before this started. Those with strong objections will not and maybe some will buy it just to protest the points mentioned above. Either way it falls it looks like the military is the one wronged here. What we do on behalf of those at home is once again viewed as wrong, less than honorable and something to be distanced. The charities that support those wounded in defense of those at home will see a little less exposure and likely a little less money to assist those in need. At no time will buying a weapon via a link on medalofhonor.com either add nor subtract one more member of the military to the roles of those organizations they support.


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